Hunters statewide can celebrate the beginning of dove season at noon Saturday. Long-awaited opening day is traditionally considered the beginning of the fall hunting season, and with the numerous wildlife management area hunts scheduled, it is the perfect opportunity to introduce children and grandchildren to the sport.
"Georgia has some fantastic public areas for dove hunters. In fact, many WMAs provide fields managed specifically for dove hunting opportunities," said John W. Bowers, Wildlife Resources Division’s assistant chief of Game Management. "In addition to being the ‘kick-off’ to the fall hunting season, dove hunting is a prime time to introduce family and friends to hunting, as it typically is a fun-filled day."
Most WMA public dove fields are quota only on opening day. As such, hunters are encouraged to review dove hunting rules and regulations to ensure the availability of the field they plan to visit.
The official 2011-2012 dove seasons are Sept. 3-18, Oct. 8-16 and Nov. 24 - Jan. 7. Shooting hours are noon until sunset on opening day (Sept. 3) of the first season and one-half hour before sunrise to sunset for the remaining two seasons. Sunrise and sunset times for each day are found in the 2011-2012 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide or online at www.georgiawildlife.com.
The daily bag limit is 15 doves per hunter. Additionally, there have been some reports of white-winged doves in Georgia. White-winged doves may be harvested, but count toward the daily bag limit of 15.
Any autoloading or other repeating shotgun must be plugged to hold no more than three shotshells while hunting doves. As always, hunters must obtain permission from landowners before hunting on private property and please respect the land by cleaning up spent shells, leaving gates the way they were found and removing all trash.
Dove hunters 16 years of age and older must possess a Georgia hunting license and a free Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program Permit (HIP Permit). Those hunting WMAs also must possess a WMA license.
Hunters may purchase licenses online at www.georgiawildlife.com, by phone at 1-800-366-2661 or at more than 800 license agent locations (list of agents available online).
For more information on dove hunting rules and regulations, public dove fields and conditions, or adult/child dove hunts, hunters should review the 2011-2012 Georgia Hunting Seasons and Regulations guide, available at www.gohuntgeorgia.com or at any Wildlife Resources Division Game Management office.
Updated and accurate harvest rate estimates facilitate the successful management of doves. As such, the U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Research Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in cooperation with several states, including Georgia, initiated a dove trapping and banding project in 2003. Hunters can participate in this conservation effort by examining harvested doves for bands and reporting band numbers to the USFWS by calling 1-800-327-BAND.